Are you considering moving to a new city with no money or job lined up?
If you want to pick up and move without a plan, you’re not alone…
For many young people, the idea of starting a new life in a different place is a romantic and exciting one.
In fact, my desire to move to a new city is what sparked the financial epiphany that motivated me to get my own personal finances in order and eventually start this blog.
I posted a question on the Personal Finance subreddit that was something along the lines of:
Is $2,000 enough to move to another state?
The Redditors replied with some helpful tactical advice – much of which will be covered in this post – and one user commented asked this question:
“How are you single, earning a comfortable salary, living in a modest apartment… and have zero savings? Several hundred dollars a month are going somewhere, do you know where?”
Up to this point, I hadn’t realized how big of a mess my personal finances were.
I had just graduated from college, yet I wasn’t managing my money like an adult.
Although I wasn’t struggling to pay my bills, I was spending lots of money on travel each month and my food budget was completely non-existent.
At this point, I realized that if I wanted to move to a new city – soon or in the future – I would need to get my personal finances in order.
If you want to know how to move with no money or job, you may be facing a similar realization.
In this post, you’ll learn exactly what it takes to make your big move and how to maximize your chances of a safe landing in your new city.
Reasons for moving without money
Let’s face it…
Moving without money or a job lined up isn’t the ideal situation.
That being said, you may find yourself in this position under a few different circumstances.
Maybe you want to:
- Move out of your parents’ house for the first time as an adult?
- Leave your college town after graduation?
- Deal with an unexpected life event, such as divorce or poor health of a loved one?
- Escape from an unhealthy relationship?
- Start over and enjoy a fresh start?
If you have shared your decision to move to a new place – especially if you don’t have a job offer lined up – perhaps you’ve been met with some level of doubt or skepticism.
While you don’t owe others an explanation of your decision, you do owe it to yourself to put yourself in the best situation possible for the next stage of your life.
Considerations for starting over with no money
After asking Reddit if I had saved enough money to move across the country, I discovered there were many factors for moving to a new state that I hadn’t really considered.
Moving to a new city isn’t as easy as just packing up your belongings and finding a place to sleep. Moving is expensive!
If you haven’t already, take a moment to consider the following factors:
Cost of living
How much does your target city cost in comparison to where you currently live?
If you’re trying to make the move from a college town into “the big city,” you might be surprised to see that your rent payment is suddenly larger than your entire monthly expenses in your current city.
Plug your current income into a cost of living calculator to compare how much you’ll need to end up earning to enjoy a similar quality of life in your new city.
Transporting all of your belongings across the country isn’t cheap.
Depending on how much you own and how far you plan to move, your moving costs will likely be hundreds – or even thousands – dollars.
You’ll need to spend money on:
- Moving supplies (find free boxes if you can!)
- A truck rental if you’re bringing furniture
- Gasoline… and your fuel efficiency isn’t great in a truck
- Nightly accommodations if you’re driving a long distance
These costs are often overlooked by someone trying to move without an employer funding the relocation.
If you haven’t saved up money for these moving costs ahead of time, you may find yourself in a personal financial crisis before you even make it to your new home!
Housing security deposit
Moving into a new apartment with no money or job isn’t an easy process.
First of all, many landlords will require proof of income as part of the rental application process. The income needed to qualify for an apartment will vary by the property, but it’s typically around three times the monthly rent.
Moving into a new apartment also typically requires more cash than just the rent payment. You’ll likely be required to cover the first month of rent, last month of rent, and a security deposit before you’re allowed to move in. This means you’re probably looking at 3x the rent payment to actually secure a place to live.
(If you are currently renting, don’t forget to obtain any refundable portion of your security deposit after you make your move!)
Does all of this sound unfair?
In reality, these rules help protect both you and the apartment owner.
One big risk of moving with no money or job lined up is locking yourself into an apartment lease that you can’t afford. Either staying with a family member or friend or finding a short-term rental option are safer options.
Your first paycheck
Let’s say you hit the ground running in your new city. With a fresh haircut and updated resume, you’re able to line up several interviews for promising positions in your preferred career field.
It’s smooth sailing from here, right?
For starters, it can take several weeks to go from the first interview to starting your new job.
It takes time for companies to complete each round of interviews, decide on a candidate, process the paperwork, and prepare for a new hire to start work.
Even if you’re job hunt goes extremely well, it’s going to be several weeks before you start a new job. And depending on when you start, you’ll likely be waiting 2-3 weeks after your first day on the job before receiving your first paycheck.
The best city to start over with no money
Have you decided to move to a new city with no money, but you aren’t sure where you want to end up?
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you may consider one of the many cities that may pay you to move there.
Tulsa, Oklahoma is offering a $10,000 incentive and coworking membership to remote workers who decide to call the town “home” for at least a year.
Alaska and Colorado are just two of the many places that also offer moving incentives – sometimes cash, other times land or housing – to attract new people to join their communities.
Even Japan, with a shrinking and aging population, is offering free houses to people willing to pay the taxes and fees.
So should you move to one of these places offering financial incentives to relocate?
Perhaps, but not necessarily.
When deciding on the best city to move without money, you’ll want to find a place with:
- Affordable cost of living
- Promising employment opportunities
- Existing relationships with family members or friends
The best city to move without a job or money will depend on your personal situation. Maybe it’s across the country to somewhere new and exotic… Or maybe it’s back to your old hometown or state near family and friends.
Is it time for you to pick up and move?
So you understand the hidden costs of moving to a new city and maybe you’ve already decided on where you’d like to move… what next?
You may be ready to start a new life in your preferred city as soon as possible, but before making this major decision, it’s time to ask yourself:
Do you really need to make the move right now?
Starting over with no money is going to become a major life challenge.
Waiting just a few months can make a huge difference in building a safety cushion and giving you the emotional security you need to survive what can be a rocky transition.
How to move with no money or job
Are you still asking yourself, “How can I move with no money?”
Here are 10 tips that will help you move to a new city. You can take action on many of these ideas immediately. A few may have to wait until after you make the move.
While your personal circumstances may not allow you to have a completely “easy move,” implementing as many of these strategies as possible will enable you to make your big move a reality.
Pay off your debt
Moving to a new city is a great way to enjoy a fresh perspective on life.
Unfortunately, unless you’ve been lucky enough to avoid debt or pay it off already, then credit card debt and student loans is something that will pack its own bags and follow you no matter where you call home.
If you’re planning to move without a job lined up, realize that you’re still going to be accountable for your monthly payments. Missing your monthly payments can incur late fees, hurt your credit score, and rack up additional interest.
Preferably, you’ll pay off all of your debt before making the financially risky decision to move without a job. At the very least, you’ll want to plan ahead so you have several months’ worth of payments in the bank.
Save as much money as possible
Moving to a new city is a great reason to start saving more money.
Ideally, you’ll have saved at least six months’ worth of your projected living expenses to help fund your move.
You want to have enough money in the bank that you can move all of your belongings, find a place to live, and have a few months to line up a job without worrying about your next meal will come from or if you’re going to have a roof over your head.
The most reliable way to save?
Automatically deposit a percentage of your current paycheck into a savings or checking account dedicated specifically to the move. If you’re working with an aggressive timeline, you’ll need to be saving 30%, 40%, or even more from each paycheck to stockpile cash for your move.
Really in a bind?
Your tax refund, performance bonus from your current employer, birthday or holiday gifts, and side hustle income can all help boost your savings.
Sell your stuff
If you’re preparing to make a move, the benefits of selling some of your existing possessions are two-fold:
- You’ll have fewer items to pack and haul with you
- You can collect some additional money to boost your moving fund
A lot of your extra items – clothing, furniture, and electronics – can be quickly and easily sold through a yard sale, classified ads, or Facebook Marketplace.
If you’re going to be staying in a furnished room for the first few months, you can’t take that furniture with you anyway. It might also make the difference between needing to rent a truck or just hauling what you own in your car.
Speaking of which… You may have a moment of realization before your move when you ask yourself, “Do I need to take your car with me?”
This can be a complex decision based on where you’re moving, whether you own the car or have payments, etc. However, in some large cities with reliable public transportation, ditching your vehicle may be an effective way to reduce your expenses or boost your savings.
Update your resume
Finding a job in your target city is the easiest and most financially stable way to relocate.
As soon as moving to a new city or state becomes your goal, you’ll want to make finding a job (if you can’t transfer offices or work remotely) your #1 priority.
It might be easier to find a new job after you’ve moved as you’ll be able to do in-person interviews, and recruiters won’t question whether you’re serious about the move.
However, you shouldn’t leave your financial future with such uncertainty.
Take a few minutes to update your resume and LinkedIn profile with your most recent skills, experiences, and certifications, and start immediately looking for new employment opportunities.
Minimize your expenses
Roughly 50% of your expenses probably fall under “the big three:” housing, transportation, and food.
Beyond those categories, your spending may consist of dozens of small transactions throughout the month.
Take a look at your checking account and credit card statements to see where you can cut back.
- Do you need that music or video streaming subscription right now?
- Can you find free exercise alternatives to that monthly gym membership?
- Are there other recurring or frequent expenses you can cut back on?
If you’re serious about moving, now is the time to be challenging your spending habits and running on a lean, mean budget.
Minimizing your expenses will help you save more money before you move, and help your savings last longer after you make the jump.
Find an affordable place to stay
If you’re moving with no money or job, then paying a large security deposit and locking yourself into a 12-month apartment lease can quickly become a huge mistake.
In fact, this traditional approach to housing should really be your last resort if you’re moving without a job.
Consider alternative housing options that provide a more affordable place for you to stay while you settle into your new city.
One of the easiest options would be to stay with a family member or friend. This type of arrangement may depend on the relationship, but you can:
- Make it clear that it’s only a short-term solution
- Be willing to pay what you can afford
- Offer to help out with chores, food, or household supplies
If staying with family or friends for free (or reduced rent) isn’t an option, your best bet is to find a short-term rental for a furnished room. Look for month-to-month contract options or book a room for 2-3 months on Airbnb.
This gives you time to find a stable income, research the neighborhoods where you might like to settle down… or even decide to scrap your relocation plan without the level of financial risk and commitment that comes with an apartment lease.
Have a backup plan
You’ve sold your extra belongings, found a cheap room for rent, and already starting applying for jobs in your new city. For now, it looks like your move is off to an okay start…
But what if things don’t go according to plan?
Having a clear backup plan can provide you with peace of mind even when faced with the prospects that your move might not work out.
This backup plan will not only bail you out if the move goes poorly but also help provide an anchor of emotional support if you face difficult times during the move.
A few options to consider:
- Mark a specific “end date” to evaluate your progress and explore other options
- Set aside enough money to make a return drive or flight back home
- Determine what level of debt you may be comfortable taking on to fund the move (should be a short-term last resort!)
Create a budget
Budgeting like an adult will play a key role in whether your move is a financially successful one.
If you have a few weeks before making your move, then budgeting carefully can help you pay down your debt and build up your savings.
If you’ve been mindlessly spending on food or entertainment, now is the time to tighten up and start making more intentional decisions with your money.
Creating – and following – a budget will be especially critical after you arrive in your new city.
Regardless of how much money you were able to save before making the move, it’s your job to make that money last until you find a steady income. Build a budget, and give every dollar a purpose in making your move a successful one.
Live within your means
You’ve moved to your favorite city to look for a fresh start.
You decide to rent your own one-bedroom apartment in the center of downtown.
You buy a fresh, new wardrobe and spend your days trying to meet new people and try every restaurant in your new town.
You’ve taken a big risk in moving… Now it’s time to live the life you’ve always dreamed of, right?
Unfortunately, if this is your mindset, your big move is going to come to a quick end and you’ll soon find yourself sleeping on the couch at your parents’ house.
Now is the time to live within your means. To make the most of every dollar, you may need to settle for renting a room instead of an apartment, trading your car for a bike or bus pass, and choosing to meal prep rather than eating out frequently.
Any extra money you can hold on to should be saved for a rainy day.
Find work immediately
No matter how much you’ve saved in preparation for your move, you’ll find that your money drains quickly out of your checking account if you don’t have have a source of income.
Moving supplies… Security deposits… Professional attire for job interviews…
It all adds up.
One of the keys to successfully moving to a new city is to find work immediately. Until you accept an offer, searching for employment needs to be your full-time job.
If you’ve accepted the risk of moving to a new city without a job, you may not have the luxury of waiting until you find “the perfect job.”
Part-time or temporary work can help keep your finances afloat until you’re able to find a better long-term opportunity.
Even a small source of steady income – working as a barista, bartender, or retail associate – can help extend how long your savings will last and buy you time to find the right fit.
Should you move with no money or job lined up?
If you have a choice, your smartest move is to postpone the move for as long as possible. You can begin taking action right now to improve your situation and increase your chances of a successful move.
Start searching for a job immediately. Build up your savings. Pay down your debt. Develop the habit of living on a budget.
If life circumstances force you into moving immediately, it’s important to keep your expenses low, accept help from family and friends if you can, and have a backup plan in place.
Moving to a new city without a job is difficult… But not impossible!
Have you ever moved to a new city with little or no money? What was your experience, and what advice do you have for others considering a similar move?